AMANDLA! WOMEN TO WATCH EDITION

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Sanyu Annabelle Ndagire

Assistant Legal Officer

Why did you decide to study law?

I was inspired to study law by my mother, Judge Julia Sebutinde, whose career progression, work ethic, and impact on Uganda’s justice system motivated me from a young age to pursue a career in law. I also desired to contribute to justice for victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Growing up in Uganda, I heard and read too often about the plight of victims of conflict and human rights abuses in my country and across the continent. I wanted to be part of the change that would give them a voice and justice.

What is your proudest professional moment thus far?

While on my feet during the trial of Dominic Ongwen before the International Criminal Court. I did so as part of the Prosecution team in the first international trial that sought accountability for heinous crimes committed against thousands of Ugandans by the Lord’s Resistance Army.

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Looking back, what is one decision/action you would have done differently?

I would have taken up more professional development opportunities (employment and courses) earlier in my career.

Share some major professional challenges you have faced, or continue to face as a woman in law.

Implicit biases premised on my gender and being a person of colour are the most distinct that come to mind. Sadly, as a human race we have a long way to go before we’ll totally break or rid ourselves of these stereotypes and prejudices. But speaking up and against these biases (whether we experience or witness them) is a starting point to normalizing gender and racial equality in the workplace. Seeking out and supporting or mentoring fellow women within your firm/organisation, particularly women of colour, is equally important to create a safe environment for ALL women lawyers to thrive in.

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What are some practical strategies for survival in the legal profession?

1. Seek mentorship inside and outside of your organisation. Your mentors need not be within your profession or discipline.
2. Keep networking and don’t stop!
3. Develop your mind, your skills and your soul.